Monday, October 22, 2007

A Blog-Con Virgin No More - Film Babble Goes To Converge South 2007

I spent most of the weekend in Greensboro, NC attending Converge South 2007 - the blog convention, or more aptly conference which was held at A&T University and offered seminars, panels, presentations, and lots of interesting discussions. Most importantly for the sake of this blog there was a Film Festival - the 1st in the 3 years this event has been held. Here's some of my notes (as non-sensical as they can be) from the last few days : FRI (Oct. 19th) After arriving on the campus and eating some muffins we are welcomed by Sue Polinsky (who has the blog Sue's Place - Controlling personal chaos in a tech-central burg). She tells that the conference was conceived in an instant messenger chat and it was heavily inspired by South By Southwest - the set of interactive, film, music festivals and conferences that take place every spring in Austin, Texas. Then there was a keynote address with Ed Cone interviewing Jason Calacanis - a semi-famous internet entrepreneur and blogger (I had never heard of him before but he was treated like a rock star by the people at Converge). Some stuff discussed : digital sharecropping, statements like "the press is driven by archetypes" (a lot of talk about how the print media was dying out continued throughout the day), and Google analytics. A session called Moving From Old Media to New followed with a panel of bloggers (Dan Conover, Will Bunch and Joe Killian). The one quote I jotted down that hour was "digital is the future; prose is analog". Conover stayed for the next session - Agree To Disagree which mainly had amusing repartee between Ruby Sinreich who does a cool Chapel Hill centered activist blog - OrangePolitics.org and Chris Nabb who also has a cool politically minded blog - Afro-Netizen. After lunch my brother and I split up and I attended a session called We Don't Need No Titles (for blog posts) given by Billy Jones who has copyrighted himself "poet laureate of Greensboro" and is running as a write-in candidate for mayor of Greensboro too. He is also a contributor to a film blog - Hollywood Is Talking. I didn't really learn anything new but the hour was still interesting to say the least. I walked in late to the last session of the day - Sociable Web As A Social Force which involved Calacanis talking more at length about the power of networking and smugly showing off his web savvy by posting his phone number on twitter and having his phone ring over and over. Later on me and my brother went to a BBQ at David Hoggard's house in the Aycock Historical neighborhood which gave us a chance to meet and talk to a number of cool blogger folk.Then after almost getting lost in downtown Greensboro we attended the Green Burro for the Music Fest portion of the Con. I missed seeing any of The Wigg Report's set (I was going to the men's room) but my brother sang the chorus of their last song "Wigg Out" a lot over the next day so I think I somewhat got the gist. We stayed for Little Mascara's full set which I enjoyed quite a bit but they had the opposite of what Christopher Walken's Bruce Dickinson character wanted out of Blue Öyster Cult on that classic SNL sketch - in other words they had way too much cowbell! We were tired so skipped about before Thacker Dairy Road played and we headed back to our shabby Days Inn hotel room. SAT (Oct. 20th) We came in late - around 9:50 (after I had a none too satisfying chicken biscuit from Biscuitville) and missed most of Elisa Camahort speaking about Changing The World Through Blogs but we were just in time for one of the most entertaining panels IMHO - Social Networking which had Camahort joined by Ruby Sinreich and Soni Pitts. One of the best lines - "since Facebook opened to adults we're called 'the creepies'". The rest of the morning was a session called Moving Pictures which was essentially a presentation for CurrentTV - a California based TV Network and online short form video service (much like YouTube except that it specializes in user created non-fiction content - or so they say) with Creative Exec. Brandon Gross, Manager of VC2 Outreach Saskia Wilson-Brown, and producer/actor Jason McHugh. McHugh is hugely involved in a soon-to-be-released mockumentary about a fictional jamband - ELECTRIC APRICOT : QUEST FOR FESTEROO. Unfortunately they couldn't get the sound to work so they didn't show the trailer but we watched it on my brother's laptop back at the hotel room later and it looks like it could be potentially very funny though it's under the NATIONAL LAMPOON PRESENTS label which hasn't been a good sign for a comedy film in a long time. I met McHugh - gave him a mini-flyer for Film Babble and told him I'd look out for the film when it comes to North Carolina. I liked the CurrentTV folk and wanted to see some of their stuff so I stayed for their afternoon sessions while my brother went to a talk on Corporate Wikis. The day wrapped up and Sue Polinsky concluded with a final remark back-and-forth which offered some suggestions for improving Converge next time out. Later on Dave and I dined at Natty Greene's then headed over to Two Art Chicks Gallery for the Film Festival hosted by Andy Coon. We were given a brochure and a sheet on which to grade each film on a scale from 1-10. The lengths of each film varied - some were only a minute or so to others being close to 20 minutes long. They ranged from video podcasts to rock videos to legitimate student short films. You can see a complete schedule of the films with links and all here so I'll just say that my favorites were : "Banana Bus", "Game Over", "Roof Sex", "Falling Together in New Orleans Vignette 3" (couldn't find a link) and "Catastrophe" (ditto). I really enjoyed the martial arts parody that opened the show - "Deadly Finger" but there were too many other films by the same people that made the comical Karate thing grow very tiresome. Also as my brother Dave noted on his Converge Notes - the chairs were horribly uncomfortable so that detracted from the experience a bit. Still it was a really good time and I'm looking forward to finding out which film won. Whew! Well that was my first blog-con and I'm recovering from getting my cyber cherry popped. More later...

2 comments:

Andy Coon said...

Great weekend, glad you enjoyed the show. I appreciate your honesty about the festival, this was the first year and any input will help it grow for the following years. Sorry about the chairs I didn't take that into account. I put most of the films on my blog that I could find on the web. Check it out...

Monica said...

Sounds like a lot of fun! A lot of this is what I am doing at work... looking for ways to integrate "new media" and Web 2.0 into what we're doing. (Not because I have any technical expertise, but because being 23 is technical expertise in itself, I guess) But it's very interesting, probably my favorite part of my job. Any ideas for good corporate social networking sites that were bandied about? Also, if you're ever in need of a good (semi-geeky) read, check out Henry Jenkins' Book, "Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide" It's less about one media taking over the other and more about how they come together in interesting ways.